Matt Wrack, the General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union and Ian Hodson, President of the Bakers Union, have been speaking to Skwawkbox’s Steve Walker in a recent live debate on Socialist Telly and they’ve both offered some keen insight into how their member’s perceive the Labour Party today.
It was clear from the get go that neither Wrack nor Hodson were impressed with Keir Starmer’s leadership style and raised serious concerns over how the party had clamped down on freedom of speech and denied Labour Party members the right to vote on or even the right to discuss issues concerning the party. Hodson reported that Labour had recently seen a significant drop off in its membership with over 110,000 members now having left the party. Steve Walker added that this heavy loss of membership (and perhaps a growing disinterest from remaining party members) now finds the party struggling to even stand candidates in working class areas.
Both Wrack and Hodson agreed that the significant loss of membership fees and the decision by Unite Union to cut back financial support has now left the party with a sizeable hole in their finances. Hodson adds that this financial insecurity is what informed the party’s decision to drop Richard Leonard as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party because Leonard was seen as an obstacle to attracting wealthy right wing donors.
Wrack & Hodson also agreed that Starmer’s decision to bring Peter Mandelson in as an advisor was a bad move, given that Mandelson is seen by most working class voters as an establishment figure. Wrack explained that Labour has been losing votes in working class communities for decades and the Fire Brigade Union even took the decision to disaffiliate with the Labour Party for a decade back in 2004 after Labour attacked them for “daring to ask for a pay rise and daring to vote for a strike”, calling them “fascists” and alleging the FBU were “criminally irresponsible”
Hodson reported that Bakers’ Union members were currently being consulted on the question of whether or not they felt that the Labour party had their interests and values at heart. The poll continues for another 6 weeks but the current feedback is that, so far, 91% of Bakers’ Union members do not believe that the party cares about their interests or values and given that the majority of their members are from the so-called ‘red-wall’ seats, that’s a bad indicator of the current state of affairs. It also means that the Bakers’ Union might well be on its way to disaffiliating from the Labour Party.
Wrack added that Corbyn had the right idea because what the working class really needs and what they would support is a mass mobilisation against the establishment.
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